English stories

Tracing Relatives

Our genealogical society is in the process of recording the tomb- stones of the Wynb erg Cemetery, one of the oldest in South Africa. Many of the graves are of the heroes of the 1899-1901 South African War. Readers who are trying to trace distant relatives who came to South Africa may like to get in touch and I will try to obtain information about their ancestors.


Goosey Tales

I have an explanation for the nursery rhyme “Goosey, goosey, gander” which pre-dates the English Civil War (Letters, Issue 58).

It refers to Stephen

Gardiner (1483-1555), Bishop of Winchester, who owned 22 brothels on his estate in Southwark. The earnings of the “Winchester Geese,” as the ladies employed therein were called, greatly enhanced the bishop’s lifestyle.

“Upstairs, downstairs, In my Lady’s chamber” recalls the friendship that existed between Gardiner and the Queen, Mary Tudor.

The bishop was later released by Mary Tudor, and became an arch-persecutor of Protestants.

Many other nursery rhymes also owe their origins to actual historical events, learn some history facts at this compare annecy hotels website.


Where Walk

A more peaceful Britain evolved under Queen Elizabeth I, Henry’s daughter by Anne Boleyn, and the arts prospered accordingly. Perhaps word of the Curse of Glamis had already reached Shakespeare’s ears when he penned the now famous lines: “All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, Thane of Glamis! All hail, Macbeth! that shalt be king hereafter!”

Sounds of rattling dice, cursing and swearing still unsettle residents at Glamis Castle in Scotland, as one of the lords of Glamis and his friend, the Earl of Crawford, make their spiritual presence felt. Their game of cards was disturbed by a servant reminding them of the approaching Sabbath, but the pair rashly decided to play on, declaring that the Devil himself might join them for a hand if he wished.

The Devil duly appeared and played with them, informing them that they had forfeited their souls and were doomed to play cards in that room forever more. So great were the disturbances which emanated from the chamber that 300 years afterwards the room was sealed, and is believed to be located deep in the thick crypt walls.

Turbulent times in the following century also left their mark, producing mass phantom appearances. The Battle of Naseby, one of the major conflicts of the Civil War, originally fought in 1645, is said to have been replayed annually for a century afterwards. Local villagers would congregate to watch charging cavalry with flying banners tear through the sky above the battlefield, and shiver at the piercing screams of the wounded and dying.

While troops were fighting for their country, Catherine Ferrers was fighting a losing battle with her sanity at Markyate Cell, near St Albans in Hertfordshire, something interesting  -  here. An unsuccessful marriage into the aristocracy at the tender age of 13 resulted in a life of crime, born more from boredom and frustration than financial necessity.